After finishing one step shy of the NBA Finals last season, the Memphis Grizzlies are clutching one of the bottom playoff seeds in the West. This isn't totally unexpected. For one thing, while our SCHOENE projection of the Grizzlies drew criticism, the system is on target to nail the forecast. Injuries, aging and regression have all played a part, some of which could be foreseen, some not.
With the competition within its own conference more fierce than ever, can a few tweaks get Memphis over the top, or is it time to start building a new core?
Where do the Grizzlies reside on the arc of contention?
Thirty-six of the 37 championship teams since the NBA-ABA merger have entered the playoffs as a No. 3 seed or higher. The lone exception was the 1994-95 Houston Rockets, who successfully defended their title as a No. 6 seed. Exception aside, it's tough to consider any team that won't have a premium seed a title contender. The in-this-case-ironically-named Hollinger Playoff odds -- the creator of the formula, former ESPN Insider columnist John Hollinger, now works in Memphis' front office -- give the Grizzlies an 81.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 1.1 percent chance of winning it all. Those are tepid odds for a franchise that was knocking on the door less than a year ago.